by Audrey W. Prince, M.Ed.
Imagine you are a child with a learning disability. You study and do your best to prepare for a test, but you are not a good test taker. Will your grade be a true reflection of what you really know? The above scenario happens frequently for some students with learning disabilities. Teachers and parents need to be aware of the types of testing accommodations and strategies that decrease test anxiety for the student and improve the student's grade.
Testing Accommodations to Consider:
- Consider the forms of testing (oral, open-book, hands-on demonstration).
- Use a larger font size on a test. Some students with learning disabilities find that large print helps their processing ability.
- Eliminate distractions while students are taking tests.
- Some students with perceptual problems find it difficult to transfer answers to answer sheets. With these students, avoid using answer sheets for tests, especially computer forms. Allow students to write answers, checks, circles, etc., on the test, or dictate their responses into a tape recorder.
- Grant time extensions. Students with learning disabilities may need longer to take a test. One way to make this easier is to divide the test into sections, and have the student take one section a day, untimed.
- Provide study questions in advance which model the format of the test. For example, use multiple choice questions if the test will use that type of format.
- Sometimes students with learning disabilities should be permitted to use aids such as a calculator, thesaurus, or dictionary.
- Give practice tests. Have students test one another and review answers.
Consider using the following formats when testing:
Multiple-Choice accomodations include:
- Using yes-or-no question.
- Reducing the number of choices.
- Providing more information about a choice, or using matching items.
- Providing a list of facts and information to use in the answer.
- Allowing the student to choose between several prepared short answer questions.
- Using the cloze technique in a prepared paragraph, or scrambling information for the student to arrange in correct sequence or order.
Essay accomodations include:
- Providing partial outlines for the student to complete.
- Allowing the student to record his/her answers on tape, noting important points to include in the response.
- Allowing take-home tests.